NWU gives up NAIA status, will join IIAC

Nebraska Wesleyan's women's basketball team topped Division III in grade point average this past season.
NWU athletics photo by Double6photography

Nebraska Wesleyan, the lone remaining dual member of the NAIA and NCAA Division III, is giving up its NAIA affiliation effective July 2016 and joining the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference that fall.

The news, originally reported in the Cedar Rapids Gazette on Friday, was made official on Monday, July 20.

Nebraska Wesleyan, in Lincoln, Neb., has competed as a dual member of both athletics governing bodies but has consistently declared itself eligible for the NAIA championships in many of its sports. NWU has been a member of the Great Plains Athletic Conference; all other GPAC schools are NAIA members.

The school will also add wrestling starting in 2016-17.

"Nebraska Wesleyan University is delighted to join the Iowa Conference," said NWU president Fred Ohles. "We value the academic rigor and balance that are part of the NCAA Division III philosophy and the Nebraska Wesleyan philosophy. We look forward to the opportunity of fully integrating our entire athletic program with other NCAA Division III schools."

Nebraska Wesleyan is about an hour southwest of Buena Vista University, the westernmost edge of the conference. It’s nearly six hours west of Dubuque, Iowa, the easternmost edge of the conference.

"I am honored to welcome Nebraska Wesleyan to our conference family," said Iowa Conference commissioner Chuck Yrigoyen. "Our institutions are rivals in competition but united in our overall commitment to each other. We constantly strive to instill conference pride and camaraderie in every student-athlete, coach and campus community member. Yes, we eagerly anticipate the all-important conference schedule of games, but we are equally passionate about our collaborative efforts to be a premier academic and athletic experience for the young women and men we serve."

NWU will be the ninth member of the conference.